Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Turkey Vulture

Mwahahaha! Welcome back to Amateurnithologist's Spooktacular Shocktober Birdstravaganza! We continue our exploration of the spookiest birds with a really prized find. That's right, Turkey Vulture is finally joining the blog as I've had a few lucky occasions lately to finally get a good picture of these guys. These two pictures were taken at Mount Diablo (scarily topical!).
What do you think of when you think of spooky birds? Probably owls first (and for good reason, they are heavily connected to the supernatural after all). Perhaps crows? At some point you start to think about the only bird that you ever hear about eating human flesh, the vulture. The Turkey Vulture is the western hemisphere's archetypal scavenger-bird. You might know him better as a Turkey Buzzard, or simply Buzzard. The bird that outlaws are left to in the desert. That guy.
It might not surprise you that we here at bird blog have a different perspective on vultures to offer you. First and foremost, Vultures serve an important purpose and occupy an otherwise empty rung of the avian food chain. In fact, vultures are so important to the ecosystem that on other continents, there are convergently evolved bird that are almost identical. Furthermore, some cultures see the Vulture as a sacred being because of his role in the intersection between life and death. Zoroastrians in India and Tibetan Buddhists are both known to practice "sky burials", in which the dead are left somewhere high up for Vultures to consume them, thus releasing their souls. Great job vultures!

Turkey Vulture aka. Turkey Buzzard aka. aka. Buzzard aka. John Crow aka. Carrion Crow
Cambria, California, USA
Member of the Vulture Family
§A Committee of Vultures§

~true bird fact~ They really are harbingers of death though. Turkey Vultures have an extremely refined sense of smell, assisted by an unusually large 'smell section' in their brains, which allows them to sniff out a special gas emitted by newly dead corpses. Very few birds use their sense of smell for much of anything, but Turkey Vultures can find their food using smell alone.

Meticulously organized. A real bean counter
Appreciates the chance to 'let loose' with coworkers every once in a while
Never showy, but contributes a lot
Knowledge gained through studying and reading a lot, not through innate talent

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